“Around two years ago, I thought it would be a fun idea to do a small compilation of local artists,” Venezia says. “Just kind of a quick and easy acoustic vocal thing, and to find a charity to donate to.”
From there, the project blossomed. Working with a select few bands quickly turned into working with eighteen bands — some of them very popular in the area, others on the rise, and all of them interested in showcasing their talent in the community and helping a good cause.
“We had kicked around a few charities but found the obvious one right in front of us, which is nurturing up-and-coming musicians,” Venezia said. “[We’re] trying to give the new generation of artists the tools that would help them excel by donating to a local high school music program that usually gets the short end of the stick with local tax money.”
That’s where Robert Stahly, an orchestra teacher at Longmont High School, came in.
Stahly and Venezia have worked together for several years, the former often consulting with the latter on equipment for the school’s auditorium.
“When Mark approached me, I was flabbergasted,” said Stahly. “I’m feeling so blessed to be in a community that would consider doing a project like this. Personally, it’s been really touching to have a community that cares about education and the arts.”
The Longmont Project includes eighteen Longmont-area bands performing original songs. The album will be free, with an option to donate at www.lhs-music.org, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the music program’s booster club. All of the artists' efforts were donated.
“It’s a total honor to be a part of the project,” said Jeanne McAdara of the band Tillia Americana. McAdara also created the cover art for the album. “From the well-established bands all the way down to some kids that are still in high school, to be in company of those people feels very amazing.”
McAdara wrote and sings lead vocals on the track “Specific Gravity,” which, she notes, serves as a love song to Colorado. The song was one of several that Tilia Americana sent to Venezia when he asked them to join the project, and the crew quickly decided it was the best fit.
Venezia and McAdara appreciated how bands agreed to collaborate throughout the process. If, for instance, a group wrote a song that required an extra musician, other musicians involved with the project would step in to play.
McAdara said that ultimately, “it makes logical sense” for the proceeds from the project to go toward Longmont High School’s music program to “support the next generation of music makers.”
The majority of the funds, Stahly expects, will be used for scholarships for the financially disadvantaged, as well as to bring in guest artists and teachers.
“The Longmont Project” will be released on August 1, with a single track being released daily up until then. Donations can be made at the project's Facebook page, where the album will also be available for downloading.